Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Then and Now 28 - Sammi

Then and Now 28 - Sammi
Time: Mid-to-late 2007, single and at the hostel, and later at my apartment.

Sammi was another internet friend that I made, but with a very big difference from my other buddies: she made it clear from the beginning that she was looking for a relationship, and wanted to go on a date with me. She was an absolute beauty, and I got pretty excited. When we met up in the main city, she looked just as stunning as she did in her picture.

We talked together for a few minutes as we walked to a Mexican restaurant to get dinner. Outside was this cute little plastic cactus, which I just had to take a picture of. Inside, the place was very bustling. Sammi and I were seated by the waiter, and we had a great conversation about her college life, her brother's life as a soldier, places I had visited, her time in America, and lots of other things. As we waited to get our orders filled, I noticed her flashing her beautiful smile several times, so I took my camera out to take her picture. She was shy, but after a few reassuring compliments, she relented and let me snap a photo.

I ordered a bean and cheese burrito, a quesadilla and a Sprite, my favorites. When they arrived, I had to force myself to be polite and eat slowly; it had been two months since I had eaten Mexican. And although they were both very salty, almost too much for me, they were still delicious and a great reminder of home. When dinner was done, Sammi and I walked out to where she had parked her car. On the way, I slyly put my hand in hers, and I was excited to feel her squeeze back.

Then, things started to take a turn for the worse.

On the way, she told me she came out with another foreigner a few weeks before, and that he abruptly stopped dating her at some point because he wasn't interested in waiting around for her to make up her mind about sex. I thought at the time that he was just a typical foreign guy who came over for nothing but sex and money, but later events with Sammi would change my mind on that. Later, we were halfway to her car when we walked by a foreign guy holding hands with his local girlfriend. I smiled and nodded at them, but when we were out of earshot, Sammi told me that she got irritated when she saw that kind of couple.

I knew immediately that she had had an unhappy breakup with her ex, another foreigner, and that she was comparing other peoples' relationships to her own. I held out the hope that things were going to go smoothly between us, but deep down, I knew I was in for a ride. At her car, I gave her a hug, and she drove off smiling. Despite the bad end to our date, the next morning I was at the main station and called up Ken, telling him that I had a girlfriend. He congratulated me heartily and requested pictures.

The next time Sammi and I got together was for a trip to the place by the ocean that my bud and I had been to in Then and Now 16. First, we took a boat ride on some calm waters, which was fun with all the other locals seated next to us and enjoying the sights. There were a couple of little islands I could barely make out in the distance, all completely covered in trees. Later, we rented a double bicycle and went to a museum that specialized in ancient history, and as she and I walked through the exhibits, I held her hand here and there.

Whenever we got to a lit place or there were people around, though, she let go and walked a bit away. I couldn't place my finger on what was going on, but about twenty minutes later, she filled me in: she said we were going too fast. I was a bit surprised, seeing as how all we did was hold hands, but I was still cool with slowing down for her.

We went outside a bit later to watch a music show with some drummers and stuff, then we biked back to the rental shop. On the way, she told me that she brought another foreigner here on the exact same trip, bike and all, a week earlier: some older businessman. I didn't know why she was telling me this. Later, when we were riding by some people, she kept nagging at me to slow down and be careful, when I very clearly already was. So with that over with, we went to the market area to get some stuff to eat. I had some strawberries and a hot dog, and I bought her a little tube filled with candy with a duck stopper on top. She refused it with a shake of her head. Then she started getting on my case about getting her food, paying for stuff and opening doors for her. Her exact words: "You're a really nice guy. Too nice, maybe... just kidding!"

I got quiet, and planned what I should do to salvage this chance I had with a hot girl. When we had boarded the train home and she started talking about her grandmother's failing health, I offered her my sympathies... then I got choked up about a similar situation with my own grandmother, who I hadn't heard from in years (she's fine, by the way). I can't say it was my most shining moment, and it's definitely one of the top ten things not to do in front of a date, but I'm nothing if not honest on this blog. She said she was sorry, but I could hear the insincerity in her voice. I was glad for our "date" to be over when I got to my stop.

But I didn't give up. I kept in contact with her over the phone until I moved to my apartment. I remember one time when we texted each other while we watched her favorite show, Supernatural, from our two houses. She responded to my third message talking about one of the support characters with "Let's just watch the show, ok?!"

A while later, we met up again for a short walk with her friends through town, walking down streets through the department stores in the center of the city. I went window shopping with them through some clothes stores that offered dresses and suits of impeccable quality. It would have costed months of my salary to pay for a single set, but they were interesting to look at, nonetheless. Outside, I got Sammi alone and confidently told her that I was ok to start dating again, no hand holding or anything, just taking it slow. She said she needed more time, more than the one or two weeks I had given her, and started taking this condescending "stop rushing me" tone. I knew at that point that she was either friend zoning me, or just leading me on.

We met up three more times after that. The first was when she bought me a blanket that I couldn't afford during my first month at my apartment, which was a sweet gesture that I'm pretty sure was only meant to keep me on the hook, but I happily used it anyway. She then criticized my hair for being too long, which I needed to spike it. The second was when we went to get a steak dinner, but she spent most of the time ignoring me, so I just did a little people watching and watched the shop's TV. She insisted on splitting the bill at the end. The third time, we went out to a burger joint, and I saw her with her glasses and no makeup for the first time. I told her she looked great, and that I really liked the natural look and she should keep it. She disagreed, then criticized me for not cutting my slightly long nails.

I smiled inwardly; I was on to her little game by this point, and her beauty wasn't going to distract me any longer. I ignored her for a week or two, happily meeting up with several other girls who didn't treat me like a "Break in case of emergency loneliness" backup plan, until I texted her while taking the bus home from a long, blissful day of travel.

"Hey, wanna be friends?" I asked directly.

"Ok," she replied.

"Cool. We'll hang out later," I answered, then put the phone away and never spoke to her again.

So why would I make this into a Then and Now, when I obviously had a terrible time with this girl? Well, after the first night, take her out of the equation:

- I had some delicious Mexican food for the first time in months, and got a good walk in the night air that evening, hand in hand with a beautiful girl.
- I took a fun boat ride and saw some beautiful scenery of distant islands, I had never ridden a double bike before, I had a great time looking at the old spearheads and other artifacts at the museum, the drummers outside were amazing, and I got some great food at the market area later.
- I went up several floors of a palatial department store and saw some awesome clothes.
- I got a free, warm blanket.
- I had two delicious dinners.

And most importantly, I had enough self respect to cut off a poor influence from my amazing single life, despite never being able to date this beautiful girl after that. Granted it took me a few weeks to realize I was being jerked around, but back in college, there were girls (Leena and others) I pined after for years without realizing how much of an idiot I was being in the process. Now that I'm married, I'm intimately acquainted with what a s*** test is and how I failed them with Sammi, but all in all, those were some fine trips, Sammi or not.

As for today...

I woke up at 7:00.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the game.
I talked with my wife.
I ate lunch.
I took my son to the arcade, then we went home.
I watched TV.
I did the dishes.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I started a load of laundry.
My wife took a nap.
I roughhoused with my son.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I went out to tutor students.
I came home.
I cleaned up the floor and table again.
I hung up wet laundry.
I did the dishes.
I roughhoused with my son.
I watched internet movies with him.
I slept.

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